Coming to Kentucky is not a big deal to New York playwright Laura Marks; it’s coming home.
“I was born and raised in Lexington, and both my parents are from Kentucky, too: my mom is from Grayson and my dad is from Harlan County,” Marks, author of the off-Broadway play “Bethany,” said. The show stars America Ferrera, who starred in the television program “Ugly Betty.”
“My grandmother, Lorraine Peffer, and my uncle, Scott Peffer, both live right here in Ashland,” Marks said.
She will speak at the GetPublished Expo, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 30 at the Paramount Arts Center. She said what she plans to talk about will be applicable to writers of all genres.
“I’ll just be speaking about playwriting, but I think the basic characteristics of good writing are the same in any format or genre,” she said. “My plan is to do two different sessions: one as a sort of general Q & A about the business side of playwriting and one smaller roundtable that’s more about generating new work and exploring the form with writing exercises.”
Marks’ play won the Leah Ryan Prize for Emerging Women Writers and was published in England in Methuen’s “American Next Wave” anthology. It also was chosen by John Guare as runner-up for Yale’s David C. Horn Prize.
She said one of the exercises she’s planning to share is one she learned while studying at The Juilliard School in New York under Marsha Norman, also a Kentucky native.
“She has an exercise that explores the question of subject matter: what kinds of stories will really hold an audience’s attention? Would you rather watch a play about a girl who can’t decide whether to go to the school dance? Or a girl who needs to find out who killed her father?” she explained. “Everyone has different taste, of course, and any genre can work — but you quickly get a sense of which stories are compelling enough to fill a whole evening.”
Marks said even though she doesn’t write every day, being a writer feels like a seven-day-a-week job.
“If I’m not writing, then I’m thinking about work in some other way: researching a new possible project, meeting with potential directors and producers, or applying for grants or residencies,” she said.
Her primary piece of advice to writers is to set deadlines.
“Find some way of holding yourself accountable,” she said. “I’ve often made the mistake of thinking that the time I spend writing should be flexible — I’ll just squeeze it in after the kids are in bed. But nothing gets done that way. It took me a long time to realize that I need to put writing first; everything else can wait for a few hours.”
Playwright Laura Marks, author of “Bethany,” will speak at the GetPublished Expo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 30 at the Paramount Arts Center. To register, visit Eventbrite at eventbrite.com/event/5198145794?ref=ebtnebregn.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.